Former college football coach and athletic administrator Jack Lengyel has been chosen as the 2018 recipient of the AFCA’s highest honor, the Tuss McLaughry Award. Lengyel will receive the award at the American Football Coaches Awards on January 9 during the 2018 AFCA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected for the American Football Coaches Association’s Tuss McLaughry Award, and to be associated with those legendary former recipients,” Lengyel said. “I want to thank my wife Sandy, my children David, Julie and Peter, for their dedicated support throughout my career. I stand on the shoulders of my former players, coaches, mentors, supporters and family, and share this award with each and every one of them.”

Lengyel began his coaching career at his alma mater, Akron, in 1959. He moved on as an assistant at Heidelberg for two years before taking another assistant coaching spot at Cornell (N.Y.) in 1963. After three years at Cornell, Lengyel was named the head coach at the College of Wooster in 1966. He guided the Fighting Scots to 24 victories in his five years as head coach, including an 8-1 season his final year. Lengyel also served as the head lacrosse coach at Wooster for three years. 

In 1971, Lengyel was hired as the head coach at Marshall and tasked with the huge responsibility of rebuilding the football program after most of the coaches and players were killed in a plane crash on November 14, 1970, returning from a game against East Carolina. He was forced to recruit players from other sports on campus and use a large number of walk-ons to build a roster for the 1971 season. Even though the football team managed only two wins in 1971, Lengyel helped guide the program and the school through one of the worst sports disasters in American history. In 2006, Warner Bros. produced the movie, “We Are Marshall,” with Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey playing Coach Lengyel and tells the story of him rebuilding the program. 

After leaving Marshall, Lengyel worked in the private sector for a few years before returning to college athletics as the associate athletic director at Louisville in 1978. He moved on as associate athletic director at Missouri in 1980 before becoming athletic director at Fresno State in 1983. After serving four years with Bulldogs athletics, Lengyel returned to Missouri as athletic director in 1986. He would spend two years with the Tigers before embarking on a 14-year run as athletic director at Navy. He retired from Navy in 2001, only to return as an interim athletic director at Temple, Eastern Kentucky and Colorado between 2002-05. 

Lengyel received the 2005 John L. Toner Award from the National Football Foundation for his years of service at Navy. He has held leadership posts in numerous professional organizations including the National Association of College Directors of Athletics, the 1-A Directors of Athletics Association, the College Football Association, the NCAA, the Big Eight Conference, and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Lengyel is currently the vice president of business development for XOS Digital/Catapult, a sports media and technology company. He is married to Sandy Lengyel and they have three children: David Lengyel, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps (retired); Peter Lengyel, retired Commander, U.S. Navy; and Julie Logan, a jewelry designer. The couple has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. David and Peter are former graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. David is the retired NASA Risk/Knowledge Management Officer for Human Space Flight. Peter is the current president and CEO of Safran USA, an aerospace and defense technology provider. Julie is a designer/maker of jewelry and lives with her attorney husband in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. 

The Award

The Tuss McLaughry Award is given to a distinguished American (or Americans) for the highest distinction in service to others. It is named in honor of DeOrmond “Tuss” McLaughry, the first full-time secretary-treasurer of the AFCA and one of the most dedicated and influential members in the history of the Association. The award was established in 1964. 

Tuss McLaughry

Tuss McLaughry began his coaching career at his alma mater, Westminster (Pa.) College in 1916. During his early days in coaching, McLaughry spent his spare time playing pro football with the Massillon (Ohio) Tigers. Knute Rockne was a teammate. He went on to become head coach at Amherst (1922-25), Brown (1926-40), and Dartmouth (1941-55). His most successful years were at Brown, where he had a 15-year record of 76-58-5. In 1926, McLaughry produced Brown’s only undefeated team. Two of his other teams at Brown had only one loss. 

McLaughry retired from coaching in 1954, but continued in his capacity as chairman of the Physical Education Department at Dartmouth until 1960, when he accepted the appointment with the AFCA. He retired from that position in 1965.

McLaughry played a leading role in the development of the AFCA while at the same time establishing a reputation as a successful head coach at some of the most prestigious schools in the East. He worked diligently throughout his lifetime to advance the best interests of the football coaching profession.

Past Tuss McLaughry Award Winners

1964   Gen. Douglas MacArthur, armed forces 

1965   Bob Hope, entertainer 

1966   Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. President 

1967   Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President 

1968   J. Edgar Hoover, director, FBI

1969   The Reverend Billy Graham, evangelist 

1970   Richard M. Nixon, U.S. President 

1971   Edwin Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronauts

1974   John Wayne, actor 

1975   Gerald R. Ford, U.S. President 

1977   Gen. James A. Van Fleet, armed forces 

1979   Jimmy Stewart, actor 

1980   Lt. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, armed forces 

1981   Dr. Jerome Holland, educator, business executive 

1982   Robert Crippen & John Young, astronauts 

1983   Ronald Reagan, U.S. President 

1985   Pete Rozelle, NFL Commissioner

1986   Gen. Pete Dawkins, armed forces 

1987   Gen. Chuck Yeager, armed forces 

1988   Lindsey Nelson, sportscaster 

1989   George Shultz, U.S. Secretary of State 

1990   Burt Reynolds, actor

1993   Tom Landry, Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys

1994   Charley Boswell, armed forces

1996   Eddie Robinson, Head Coach, Grambling St.

1998   George Bush, U.S. President

2001   Andrew Young, United Nations Ambassador

2002   Roger Staubach, businessman, NFL Hall of Famer

2003   Stephen Ambrose, Author and historian

2004   Gen. Tommy Franks, armed forces

2005   Dr. Christopher Kraft, NASA

2007   Paul Tagliabue, NFL Commissioner

2008   Tom Osborne, Head Coach, Nebraska

2009   Rudy Giuliani, former mayor, New York City

2010  Tony Dungy, Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts

2013   Robert Mueller, Director, FBI

2014   Jeffrey Immelt, CEO, General Electric

2016   William McRaven, Chancellor, University of Texas System

2017   Grant Teaff, AFCA Executive Director, Head Coach